What Happened to the Hard Lessons of Vegas?

President Obama’s Back to School remarks—to be delivered tomorrow in Arlington, Virgina and broadcast to students across the county—are now available online.

There’s something that jumped out at me, something that appears to be the administration making a mistake it’s already made once before—the president mentions a specific product in a somewhat negative way while giving an example.

From tomorrow’s Back to School address:

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

While it’s true that kids would likely be better off if they don’t “spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox,” I was a little surprised to see the Xbox mentioned by name. Later in the article, the president mentions other products, all in a positive light—this makes sense to me; I can understand the benefits of using real examples that people can relate to. But using the Xbox the way he did, rather than simply saying “video game system,” reminds me of something President Obama took some heat for earlier this year, after answering a question at a townhall.

From an Indiana town hall in February:

“We’re going to do something to strengthen the banking system. You are not going to be able to give out these big bonuses until you pay taxpayers back. You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime. There’s got to be some accountability and some responsibility.”

Using Las Vegas as an example in this situation did not please the mayor of Las Vegas. The story got quite a bit of media attention back in February.

I don’t know if we can expect outrage from Bill Gates or Xboxers tomorrow because Microsoft’s game system is the one the president chose to name, but I can’t help but wonder why the president and his speechwriters didn’t use a generic term after what happened with Vegas. If this changes by the time the speech is delivered, I’m just going to assume the president reads my blog—stay tuned.

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In 2008-09, Caps Outsold the Skins

Something happened in D.C. sports this year that I’m fairly confident has never occurred before and that some people probably never thought possible—the Washington Capitals sold more tickets for their regular season games than the Washington Redskins did for theirs. Yup, D.C.’s NHL team outsold its NFL team.

If you don’t follow D.C. sports, the Redskins have been THE team in this town for as long as I can remember. Even in bad stretches, the Skins get more overall media attention than any other area team and still sell out every game, every year. At least in my lifetime, this has always been a Redskins town.

But ever since a late season run in 2007-08 that took them to the playoffs, the Caps have been the hottest team in town and, for what looks like the first time ever, the Caps sold more regular season tickets (741,992) than the Skins did (708,835) last season.

Some will say this means nothing and that championships are what speak. But what I find truly amazing is that 5 years ago, if you’d asked a local sports fan what it would take for the Caps to outdraw the Skins they likely would have said “A Stanley Cup” and even then they may have thought the Skins might still outsell them.

But here we are with a young Caps team that, though they could very well someday win the Cup, has not gotten any further than the second round of the playoffs together and they’ve already outsold the Skins (they will also outsell them this season—it’s even quite possible the Caps will sell every seat to every game in 2009-10). With things already at this level, it’s fun to think about what would happen around here if this Caps team does win a Cup—maybe Sports Talk 980 would even talk about them for more than a few minutes at a time.